MW2011: D. Laursen, Guided expectations: a case study of a sound collage audio guide

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This paper is a user evaluation of a mobile phone audio guide, developed for visitors to use at the National Gallery of Denmark. The audio guide is offered as a downloadable MP3 file at every incoming visitor who is carrying a mobile phone with an open bluetooth connection. The guide itself is structured through association, offering an experience more comparable to an audio documentary than a traditional guided tour. Instead of directing the visitor's focus of attention to selected points and objects provided by the museum as a producer, the sound collage relates indirectly to the objects of the exhibition, emphasizing visitors' agency and authorship.

The paper reports on a number of strategies developed by visitors experiencing an unfamiliar guide structure. These strategies reflect a conflict between the initial expectation of guiding instructions and the freedom of making choices according to personal interest, and a conflict between the expectation of a learning experience rather than an aesthetic experience. The results indicate that most visitors are able to make sense of the guide and to use it successfully, in different ways, to enrich their visit. The evaluation also shows that visitors are fund of using their own mobile phones - but they have several problems with their phones in downloading the MP3 file (accepting the file, finding the file, memory problems, etc.).

A presentation from Museums and the Web 2011 (MW2011)

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  • \nThe data for this study consisted of semi-structured, qualitative interviews and video recordings. \nThe participants in the study wore a pair of video glasses (glasses with a tiny video camera placed between the eyes of the glasses, connected to a small microphone and a hard disk recorder). The video glasses allowed precision recordings of the participants’ movements and interactions with objects and other people, as well as their perceived priorities both in terms of time and attention. \n
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  • MW2011: D. Laursen, Guided expectations: a case study of a sound collage audio guide

    1. 1. Guided Expectationsa case study of a sound collage audio guide Ditte Laursen, Danish Center for Advanced Media Materials
    2. 2. the audio guide
    3. 3. the audio guide• sound collage
    4. 4. the audio guide• sound collage• relates to thematic areas and more indirectly to specific objects
    5. 5. the audio guide• sound collage• relates to thematic areas and more indirectly to specific objects
    6. 6. the audio guide• sound collage• relates to thematic areas and more indirectly to specific objects• developed to provide visitors with more control (the course, the choice of objects)
    7. 7. data• semi-structured, qualitative interviews• video recordings (via video glasses)
    8. 8. using the mobile phone• very positive response to the audio guide mediated by the mobile phone• guide could be played on their own phones• guide was percieved as personal• high degree of control• no visual demands
    9. 9. “technical” problems• accepting the file• downloading the file• memory problems• locating the file…
    10. 10. audio presentation
    11. 11. audio presentation• the pairs who wore a headset left each other after a short while and walked on their own
    12. 12. audio presentation• the pairs who wore a headset left each other after a short while and walked on their own you tend to get isolated
    13. 13. audio presentation• the pairs who wore a headset left each other after a short while and walked on their own you tend to get isolated• the pairs who used open air sound split up or agreed to share one phone
    14. 14. audio presentation• the pairs who wore a headset left each other after a short while and walked on their own you tend to get isolated• the pairs who used open air sound split up or agreed to share one phone• the pairs who used open air sound were confronted with their own and other visitors’ norms and practices for how to behave in an art exhibition
    15. 15. audio presentation• the pairs who wore a headset left each other after a short while and walked on their own you tend to get isolated• the pairs who used open air sound split up or agreed to share one phone• the pairs who used open air sound were confronted with their own and other visitors’ norms and practices for how to behave in an art exhibition there was an old lady that looked like she thought ‘What are those girls thinking off playing loudly in a museum?’
    16. 16. pre-defined expectations
    17. 17. pre-defined expectations• expected a learning experience, not an aesthetic experience
    18. 18. pre-defined expectations• expected a learning experience, not an aesthetic experience It created an atmosphere; it painted a mood – it gave a feeling when walking around at least.
    19. 19. pre-defined expectations• expected a learning experience, not an aesthetic experience It created an atmosphere; it painted a mood – it gave a feeling when walking around at least.• expected the guide to be linear, with a predefined, precise route
    20. 20. pre-defined expectations• expected a learning experience, not an aesthetic experience It created an atmosphere; it painted a mood – it gave a feeling when walking around at least.• expected the guide to be linear, with a predefined, precise route I was unsure whether to stop and wait or move on. And sometimes when it mentioned some artwork, we weren’t sure if we should look for them or what. We then found some of them
    21. 21. pre-defined expectations• expected a learning experience, not an aesthetic experience It created an atmosphere; it painted a mood – it gave a feeling when walking around at least.• expected the guide to be linear, with a predefined, precise route I was unsure whether to stop and wait or move on. And sometimes when it mentioned some artwork, we weren’t sure if we should look for them or what. We then found some of them• expected a one-to-one relation between the audio and the paintings, instead of the audio relating to thematic areas in the exhibition
    22. 22. pre-defined expectations• expected a learning experience, not an aesthetic experience It created an atmosphere; it painted a mood – it gave a feeling when walking around at least.• expected the guide to be linear, with a predefined, precise route I was unsure whether to stop and wait or move on. And sometimes when it mentioned some artwork, we weren’t sure if we should look for them or what. We then found some of them• expected a one-to-one relation between the audio and the paintings, instead of the audio relating to thematic areas in the exhibition It talked about a painting that was sold for a lot of money, but we didn’t know which painting it was. So we looked around to find it
    23. 23. visitors’ main strategies
    24. 24. visitors’ main strategies• listening to file while moving around freely
    25. 25. visitors’ main strategies• listening to file while moving around freely• listening to the entire sound file right after entering the exhibition but before moving around
    26. 26. visitors’ main strategies• listening to file while moving around freely• listening to the entire sound file right after entering the exhibition but before moving around• pausing after each part in order to study the paintings in greater detail
    27. 27. visitors’ main strategies• listening to file while moving around freely• listening to the entire sound file right after entering the exhibition but before moving around• pausing after each part in order to study the paintings in greater detail• deselecting the file
    28. 28. visitors’ main strategies• listening to file while moving around freely• listening to the entire sound file right after entering the exhibition but before moving around• pausing after each part in order to study the paintings in greater detail• deselecting the file• trying repeatedly to find a one-to-one relationship between the paintings in the exhibition and the audio file
    29. 29. conclusion• visitors are very positive about using their own mobile phone, but in practice it is difficult for them• visitors preferred audio delivered through speakers, but were confronted with their own and other visitor’s norm of a silent art museum• visitors initially anticipated a traditional guide (precise directions to pre-selected objects, learning experience), and it confused them• with a few exceptions, visitors quickly adapted and used the guide in individual and meaningful ways, striking a balance of being guided and being able to choose objects and to choose where and when to walk

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